British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a hard line approach against Russia if it is not mending its ways in patronising the Ukraine rebels. According to a report in the Guardian, Cameron wanted the EU to blacklist the coterie and oligarchs around the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The PM's hard stand was in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 over eastern Ukraine.
The PM was addressing the House of Commons. Cameron said EU was approaching a decisive moment in its relations with Russia. There is mounting evidence that the Boeing 777 airliner was shot down by rebels in east Ukraine with a Russian-supplied missile. Also, Moscow continued to support the separatist insurgency.
Many EU foreign ministers attending the Brussells meeting wanted freezing of Russian assets and imposing travel curbs on leading Russian elite.
The targets for EU sanctions will be mainly Putin's inner circle. The U.S. sanctions list has already covered them. Putin's trusted oligarchs in St Petersburg are members of the famous Ozero Dacha housing community, located on the shore of Lake Komsomolsk.
The U.S. has blacklisted Bank Rossiya of the Kremlin elite. The US is trying to target Putin's closest associates including Gennady Timchenko who formerly held control of the world's top oil trading company Gunvor Group. Timchenko had sold his stake in the company to the partner in March this year.
The U.S. and Ukrainian governments contend that satellite imagery has proved that the airliner was hit by a Russian anti-aircraft missile delivered to pro-Moscow separatists.
Despite Cameron's call for a full European arms embargo on Moscow, France and other EU countries may resist such tough sanctions as they are running lucrative contracts with Russia. According to the latest figures, EU nations licensed almost €200 billion in military sales to Russia. They include France, Germany and UK.
Analysts said it would be hard for Moscow to use the best friends in the EU to block sanctions because the most affected, The Netherlands, is there which lost 193 of its citizens on the plane.
Black Box Handed Over
Meanwhile, CNBC reports that Russian-backed separatists have handed over two flight recorder boxes to Malaysian experts. The downed Malaysia Airlines Flight had 298 victims. Russia's envoy to Malaysia, Lyudmila Vorobyeva, denied that the rebels had Buk missile systems. The Russian diplomat also ruled out the expertise of Ukraine rebels in operating an anti-aircraft missile.